This life-sized marble statue of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus is located in the British Museum which does not charge an admission fee...and does allow non-flash photography. The Museum's website (visit link
) informs us:
"Marble statue of the emperor Septimius Severus
Roman, about AD 193-200
Found at Alexandria, Egypt
'It is good to see the statue of Septimius Severus, the first African emperor of the Romans, on display. He is seen by many as a very important figure in the historical timeline of black people in Britain. He died and was buried at York. It is the only image of Septimius Severus I've seen to date that shows him with the features and looks of a North African. Seeing this statue in this gallery makes me feel that at last the African presence in ancient Britain is being acknowledged.' Fowokan George Kelly, of Jamaican origin
Septimius Severus was the first Roman Emperor born in Africa. He ruled between AD 193 and 211. Although his family was of Phoenician rather than black African descent, ancient literary sources refer to the dark colour of his skin and relate that he kept his African accent into old age. He was an accomplished general who, having defeated his internal enemies in a series of civil wars, went on to victories at the furthest frontiers of the Empire, from Mesopotamia to Britain, where he died, at York (Eboracum) in AD 211.
He is shown with his characteristic forked beard and tight curled hair, and is wearing military dress. The statue is not carved fully in the round, but is flat and unfinished at the back, suggesting that it was part of an architectural design. It probably stood in a niche which decorated a public building or monument such as a bath building or a fountain-screen. Much of the statue's detail would have been added in paint.
Severus' two sons Caracalla and Geta were instructed by their father on his death-bed to 'pay the troops, get on with each other and ignore everyone else'. Within a year, however, Caracalla had murdered his brother and reigned alone, with all vestiges of Geta's image and name removed from buildings, official inscriptions and dedications; a process known as 'Damnatio Memoriae'.
A.H Smith, A catalogue of sculpture in -2, vol. 3 (London, British Museum, 1904)"
Wikipedia (visit link
"Though his military expenditure was costly to the empire, Severus was the strong, able ruler that Rome needed at the time. His enlargement of the Limes Tripolitanus secured Africa, the agricultural base of the empire. His victory over Parthia was total, establishing a new status quo in the east which secured Nisibis and Singara for the Empire. His policy of an expanded and better-rewarded army was criticized by his contemporary Dio Cassius and Herodianus: in particular, they pointed out the increasing burden (in the form of taxes and services) the civilian population had to bear to maintain the new army.
In order to maintain his enlarged military he debased the Roman currency drastically. Upon his accession he decreased the silver purity of the denarius from 81.5% to 78.5%. However, the silver weight actually increased, rising from 2.40 grams to 2.46 grams. Nevertheless the following year he debased the denarius substantially because of rising military expenditures. The silver purity decreased from 78.5% to 64.5% — the silver weight dropping from 2.46 grams to 1.98 grams. In 196 he reduced the purity and silver weight of the denarius again, to 54% and 1.82 grams respectively. Severus' currency debasement was the largest since the reign of Nero, compromising the long-term strength of the economy. However, Severus minted a much higher volume of denarii than his predecessors, alleviating some of the negative effects of debasement.
Severus was also distinguished for his buildings. Apart from the triumphal arch in the Roman Forum carrying his full name, he also built the Septizodium in Rome and enriched greatly his native city of Leptis Magna (including another triumphal arch on the occasion of his visit of 203). The greater part of the Flavian Palace overlooking the Circus Maximus was undertaken in his reign."